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KC Streetcar gets federal approval for Main Street Extension

Posted at 12:11 PM, May 26, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri's proposed KC Streetcar extension was approved by the Federal Transit Administration on May 22, officials announced Tuesday.

The Main Street Extension project can now enter the engineering phase of the FTA's Capital Investment Grants New Starts Program.

"We've started with engineering. We'll be advancing some of the detailed design work on the project, hiring our design team, bringing on our construction team, preparing for utility relocation," said Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority.

The streetcar line currently runs from the River Market to Union Station. The extension would allow it to run down Main Street, through midtown, ending near the University of Missouri-Kansas City at 51st & Brookside.

The project will add eight more stops on each side of the street from Union Station to UMKC.

The approval is another step toward receiving federal grant funding, but the funding is not yet there.

Receiving the $174 million grant will support the project, which costs $351 million total.

"Our goal will be to minimize the impact of construction. We've learned a lot from the project downtown, what worked well, how we support local business, support the neighborhoods," Gerend said. "So we can get through construction and get to the good part."

Consideration for the businesses is the most important to Phyllis Manley, who has owned and operated her barber shop on Main Street in midtown for 30 years.

"I like the progress. I'm excited," Manley said. "I like to see the city grow."

She said she hopes that the sidewalk will still be accessible during construction and that the extension enhances the neighborhood.

"This corridor is historic and we do want to keep the nature and the culture of it intact, however, we always have got to upgrade," Manley said.

Manley and her work partner, Maurice Basey, are hopeful it brings more business when the extension is complete, but not at the expense of losing customers during construction.

"Hoping that the city learned from the first phase and they do better the second phase to keep these businesses running," Basey said.

Gerend said the team will make sure they establish expectations and clearly communicate with the businesses along the extension route.

"The extension of the streetcar represents the next step in our vision to make transportation free and available to all, and will provide good jobs to Kansas Citians as it is being built,” KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a statement. “I’ve met with FTA leaders in both Washington and Kansas City to advocate for our community’s transportation and infrastructure priorities, and I appreciate their continued commitment to these efforts. I thank our Congressional delegation for their advocacy for this approval and other important transportation priorities to increase mobility for Kansas Citians, and am pleased we've moved into the engineering phase.”

With the new step, the project team can now get engineering and construction contracts.

Construction could begin in late 2021 or early 2022 and would be completed in 2025.